Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Time. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics

The trouble with clocks is that they are always losing time – a tenth of a billionth of a second a day, to be precise. Japanese scientists, however, have now produced a clock which uses laser-generated light waves rather then the traditional radio waves – this will only lose one million-million-millionth of a second a day.

Time is perhaps our most precious commodity. It can never be recovered once lost. It may be this that makes so many of us anxious never to waste any of it. We feel a need to fill every moment with something that feels as though it gave that moment the significance it deserved. We can learn a lot about what we think is important in our lives but asking ourselves what constitutes a “waste” of time.

The reflections of the royal philosopher found in the Book of Ecclesiastes include a well-known passage which asserts that there is a time for everything – a time to be born and a time to die….a time to seek and a time to lose…a time to keep silence and a time to speak. It’s as though Time has a mind of its own and that it’s generous enough to provide the time we need for whatever needs to be done.

Perhaps our anxiety to make maximum use of each moment prevents us really savouring the wonderful gift that is time itself. Maybe today we might occasionally wait to see what each moment brings rather than deciding in advance how we are going to fill it.


Rock and Roll is 50. On 5th July 1954, Elvis Presley walked into Sam Phillips’s Sun Studio in Memphis to cut a couple of demonstration records. While waiting to start, he started “kidding around” with a version of the song ‘That’s All right’ using that mix of country, blues and gospel he’d grown up with. Sam Phillips recognised almost immediately what he knew the music scene was crying out for – ‘a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel’.

The combination of the right person and the right time was perfect. Something very like rock and roll was already emerging from the Deep South but it needed someone like Elvis to kick start and epitomise the new genre. Musical history might have been very different if this shy 19 year-old had never plucked up the courage to go into the studio.

Such moments occur also in less significant ways and can happen in the lives of all of us. Sometimes we are aware of the need to choose the right moment for something and have to wait, allowing our intuitive awareness to tell us when it has arrived. Sometimes things happen at the appropriate time without us being conscious of having had anything to do with that and we’re grateful. Either way, however, the right thing sometimes doesn’t happen if we have not had the courage to play our part in the process.

Elvis’s untimely death colours our view of his early life. Then he was not only bold. He was a hard worker. The apparent spontaneity and rawness of his performances belied the hours of false starts and labour pains that went into every recording and every performance. Perhaps today as we open ourselves to being guided into a creative sense of timing, let’s not forget we need to back that up with courage and attention to detail.


Divers undertaking routine maintenance work in Blyth harbour, Northumberland, have discovered a giant lobster standing guard over a barnacle-encrusted wristwatch. The watch, though about three years old and not waterproof, was still going. Perhaps as the years go by, the 30 year old lobster was determined not to let time run away from him.

The lobster has been taken to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth where it is settling in well in the harbour tank display. Blue Reef's Zahra d'Aronville said: “Lobsters are well known for being extremely territorial. Perhaps it identified the watch as part of its territory and has been standing guard over it ever since.”

It’s not just the occasional lobster which keeps its eye on the time. It’s a habit many of us get into, mostly because we’re thinking about the next thing on our timetable. We’re not really concentrating on the present because we’re more aware of the demands of the future. In a passage which starts by encouraging his readers to be imitators of God, St Paul advocates redeeming the time (Ephesians 5.16), making the most of every moment. We should be like God who, according to the biblical account of the creation, took the time that was needed to complete each stage of creation. Time was God’s servant not God’s master.

Perhaps we could do our best not to let time rule our lives. A whole range of opportunities could open up for us today. Some might well be lost if our eyes are fixed permanently on our watches.